The (not so) Incredible Hulk

Day 2 of the Marvel adventure and I am so disappointed. Today was time to watch The Incredible Hulk, and I was forcing myself to get through the movie. The movie fails on so many levels. In particular, the characters were poorly developed and the pacing was off. Overall, I think it failed the character of the Hulk, one I have grown to like in some of the other movies I have watched.

I understand the challenge with introducing a character like the Hulk in his own solo film. How do you get the audience to connect with and root for a character who is an out-of-control monster seething with rage, one who is despised by the man whose body he inhabits? The film did a decent job with that. The audience knows that the Hulk’s actions are the result of attacks on him. The character Bruce Banner is smart but vulnerable which makes him intensely likeable. The problem with the movie is that in trying to make the character of the Hulk shine, the writers made all other characters one note. Betty, Bruce’s girlfriend is shown as compassionate and accepting, but comes across as dull because there is no other dimension to her personality. Dr Sterns, who Banner is in correspondence with to help him get rid of his ‘condition’ is purported to be motivated by scientific curiosity. But for a character who get a fair amount of screen time, Sterns comes across as an over-exuberant, careless person rather than someone committed to making strides in medical research.

These character arcs (or lack thereof) are disappointing. But not as disappointing as the bland character of the antagonist. The antagonist, Emil Blonsky/Abominable (played by Tim Roth) has no clear motivation for his actions. He craves war and conflict just because. And while there certainly have been villains who simply crave chaos, Abominable’s motivation was not creating chaos, but simply being a part of trouble. I’ll be honest, the intense dislike for the antagonist helped me root for the Hulk. But I would much rather prefer an antagonist who is better written and engages me more.

The movie also suffered from poor pacing. The transition between the action and emotional sequences didn’t feel seamless. For instance, the actions scenes in the movie were quite long, but they helped anchor me in the story. The scenes between the action scenes, however, particularly ones between Banner and Betty seemed to drag on for far too long, and didn’t add anything to the action scenes that followed. I think this is because the writers didn’t take the time to develop the relationship between these characters. Additionally, I didn’t understand how Betty seemed to calm the Hulk down. In a subsequent Avengers movie, I have heard Banner refer to him and the Hulk as two separate people living in the same body. But in this film at least the Hulk seemed to know and share a bond with Betty. Maybe this will become clearer as I watch the rest of the movies.

For now, all I will say about The Incredible Hulk is that I am glad I can finally move on to Iron Man 2.

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